Like many other Florida spouses, when you decided to divorce, you may have wanted to settle things as swiftly and painlessly as possible so that you could move on in life and as far away from your ex as you could get. Perhaps you even entertained the idea of moving overseas but decided against it because you have children and believe they should have the opportunity to maintain an active relationship with both of their parents.
Most family law judges would agree with you that that’s the best way to go for kids in divorce. It’s understandable, especially if your relationship with your former spouse is contentious, that you want distance between you. While long-distance co-parenting is definitely possible, it does indeed pose some challenges, especially regarding a shared custody situation. It’s a good idea to include detailed terms in your written agreement and to know where to seek support if a problem arises.
Keep these low-stress tips in mind
From the start, a long-distance co-parenting plan will work better if both parents agree to work as a team. The ideas included in the following list may be applicable and helpful in your current post-divorce lifestyle:
- Respect must be mutual: Your children have two parents, and both parents deserve respect in their roles. While you may have a lot of leftover ill feelings regarding things that went wrong in your marriage, your long-distance co-parenting plan will run more smoothly if you and your ex agree to be respectful of each other’s parenting rights at all times.
- Work out the finances ahead of time: If you’re in Florida and your spouse is several states away, perhaps even on the West Coast, there will be expenses involved in transporting your children back and forth. Try to leave no stone unturned regarding who is going to pay for what.
- Make it part of the court order: You can incorporate financial details into a court order, as well as other terms, such as where children will spend holidays, summer vacation or other special occasions. Once the judge issues an order, both parents must adhere to its terms, which, if written carefully, can help avoid a lot of confusion and conflict.
- Communication is key: A communication breakdown might have been a causal factor in your divorce. However, keeping lines of communication open at all times is critical to a successful long-distance co-parenting plan.
On one hand, living hundreds or thousands of miles away from your ex allows you have privacy and avoid bumping into each other at local places like the bank or grocery store. On the other hand, when your children travel to see their other parent, they will be far away from you, which can cause you to feel anxious or worried at times, especially if you don’t approve of the way your ex runs his or her household.
Personal opinion versus legal issues
If your kids are staying with the co-parent and they send you video chats of them staying up to all hours of the night or doing other things you don’t typically allow them to do at home, there’s not much you can do about it because each parent can decide how things will go when it’s his or her turn to have custody, unless a particular issue is included in the court order.
If your ex refuses to adhere to the terms of your long-distance co-parenting plan or you believe the lifestyle to which your children are being exposed when they’re not with you is a detriment to their well-being, you can protect their best interests by bringing the matter to the court’s attention.